Monday, June 22, 2015

Weaponizing Arab Humor

I confess, I subscribe to the NY Times printed edition. I often consider myself an expatriate New Yorker and relish reading the news about New York City from the Grey Lady herself.

On Saturday, June 20, 2015 I came across the article: “Satirical News Show Finds Humor in Gaza, Even if Hamas Rulers May Not” (see: While looking for the URL to pass along to my readers I came across a similar article on the CNN website: “Saudi TV series deploys new weapon against ISIS: satire” (see: which is also the photo source).

The NY Times article covers Akram al_Sourani the show’s writer and his approach to satirizing the government(s) in Gaza while the CNN article covers a TV series which has drawn attention – both good and bad. The CNN article also quotes a former State Department Official (Michael Rubin) as saying that humor needs to be a part of the strategy against ISIS.

I have had the good fortune to present in a variety of international venues. Most of these have been either information security or legal related although I have had my share of NATO and other military presentations.

While many ‘experts’ caution against the use of humor, I have found that humor can work well most of the time. Interestingly enough attorney jokes seem to be popular even in some Asian countries where you wouldn’t think that was the case.

The implication for PSYOPers is that we should be encouraging satirical talent if we can. We must always be mindful of a negative taint that can be attached to any association with Americans. However, people are people and the fine art of influence ultimately rests on being able to connect with your audience.

Humor, especially when created by the audience themselves, is an exceptionally potent weapon and should, as noted by the CNN article, be a key part of the arsenal of those standing up to our enemies and the enemies of peace and prosperity.

No comments: